The Case for Reusable Bags: A Sea of Plastic

July 22, 2013
Reusable BagsIf you haven’t noticed, New York City has been leaning towards green initiatives. The Big Apple is making strides to curtail the enormous amount of waste it produces every year. Both residents and tourists add to the volume. A trend toward eco-friendly reusable bags was a good start, and observers are surprised to see recycling programs expanded and – go figure – a composting program is already in the testing stage. Will Wall Street executives be composting along with the students and protesters who once “occupied” Manhattan’s Financial District? It might sound strange, but that could soon be the case in New York. This step, along with a tax or ban on plastic bags, could make New York one of the greenest cities on the East Coast. With a billionaire mayor in office, many are not surprised the motives behind the change are as fiscally sound as they are environmentally friendly. What is the case for reusable bags ? There is a sea of plastic flooding the waste stream of every large American city. In most places, sanitation departments have to dig out plastic bags from recycling plants. Plastic bags don’t get recycled with bottle and cans, so these bags serve to jam machines and wreak havoc on an otherwise orderly process. The city workers must fish them out and then transport to them to a landfill. All this hassle and permanent waste for a bag most people use for 10 minutes or fewer? This practice alone costs New York $10 million a year. Green tote bags would eliminate the need for most plastic bags, if not all of them. No matter which solution is tried, lawmakers’ efforts to curb plastic use are working. In Washington, D.C., a 5-cent tax, cut residents’ use of plastic bags by over 80%. In San Francisco, the city was not allowed to institute a tax; instead, it introduced a ban (of course, it worked even better). New York might use as many as 1.5 billion plastic bags every year. Clearly, the sea of plastic (over 100 billion used annually in the U.S.) starts flowing out of the Big Apple. The solution already exists. Eco-friendly reusable shopping bags take it easy on the environment and can be customized to fit any business or cause. Can we afford to wait any longer on making this change?